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Collaborative NHS Partnership to Automate Implantable Device Orders, Releases 13,862 Weeks Back to the NHS

5 August 2021

Collaboration, communication, and a sprinkling of courage have shown to be able to deliver real benefits on this project. It has been challenging, but we have been rewarded with breaking through the glass ceiling of IT glitches, historic methods of working and brought fresh new innovation which automates a system and reduces patient risk, with the delivery of real benefits to our hospital staff teams.

Rachael Ellis, Scan4Safety Programme Director, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust


Hull University Teaching Hospital Tower Block

A 20 month collaborative programme has been completed by Hull University Teaching Hospital, Genesis Automation*, and NHS Supply Chain to improve and automate the track and trace of implantable devices.

During the financial year of 2019/2020, Hull University Teaching Hospital used 11,423 implants within the areas which are live with Scan4safety. With 4,578 purchase orders manually intervened to fulfill the stock replenishment. Across the NHS, many surgical and clinical teams struggle to manage all implant products in an effective and efficient manner. Mainly due to the manual workload required and the requirement to provide details of the individual unique references from each implant used.

The legacy method of order transfer, File Transfer Protocol (FTP) did not allow such data to be automatically transmitted. So a manual process has been used to collate and submit the information at the trust and again at NHS Supply Chain. This manual approach takes time out of team resources and introduces the risk of human error into the process. The manual approach takes at least 8 hours a week for a Senior Nurse or stockcontroller and a further 8 hours a week for an NHS Supply Chain Customer Service Advisor.

*Genesis Automation is a third party inventory management solution that is used at Hull University Teaching Hospital.

The Objective

To create an automated inventory management solution to manage and track implantable devices and products at the point of replenishment, without manual intervention for the re-ordering process.

For suppliers to fulfill consignment orders, the individual Lot Number and or Serial Number used is critical and must be supplied at the point of ordering new items for the previous items used.

The Challenge

The main challenge in the project came from the requirement to migrate from the legacy order transfer method (FTP) to the XML method. The XML method of communication was a relatively new integration between NHS Supply Chain and an Inventory Management solution. The obstacles to the integration were:

  • Trust product data
  • Integrating NHS Supply Chain systems with the new hardware
  • Genesis Automation building new scripts that could feed new levels of information in XML method.

The Process

The approach taken was to ensure the integration was tested thoroughly on the development environments before launching live.

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust was key to ensure the integration was successful and delivered against the objectives. Specifically, it was an integral part of the testing stage in ensuring the integration was successful and the requirements were met.

NHS Supply Chain and Genesis Automation worked together during the build and test stage, once the test stage was complete and the outcomes were successful, the integration was then deployed to the Production environment realising the benefits across Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Solution

NHS Supply Chain: Supporting Technology, DXC Technologies, worked closely with Genesis Automation in order to build and test the latest integration method with a view to move forward with XML messages to the XML Web Service (EDI). This service allows line level notes to be passed across to the supplier automatically confirming Lot Numbers, Serial Numbers and, Batch Numbers used against a patient.

This integration also supports HCTED by providing complete transparency against medical devices and implants.

The Result

  • Manual intervention has been removed and accurate information is being provided directly to the suppliers for each implantable device.
  • Orders are being fulfilled in a timely manner improving patient experience as products are now always available, without delay.
  • There is a certainty with the process and data integrity when scanning the implantable device barcode.

Genesis Automation has developed and implemented a new integration to NHS Supply Chain which supports compliance against HCTED and provides complete visibility to the Supplier base.

Key Achievements

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is the first customer to successfully migrate across and the time saved is significant.

Both the trust and NHS Supply Chain have each saved 8 hours per week or 11.09 weeks per year. This provides a combined total of 22.18 weeks of time per year back to Hull University Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and NHS Supply Chain.

If this new method of ordering is replicated across all 1250 acute trusts, general hospitals, specialist treatment centres, and specialist care functions, it would offer 13,862 weeks of resource time back per year to the NHS.

The move from legacy FTP transfer to XML Web Service (EDI) also provides additional benefits:

  • Avoid time consuming manual confirmation of used Lot Numbers and Serial Numbers against consignment and owned stock.
  • Reduce the manual intervention and the risk of incorrect data being processed.
  • Avoid stock shortages and in turn, improve patient care.
  • Reduce human error.
  • Reduce clinical time spent on administrative duties, allowing time back to patient care.
  • Integrate utilising the latest XML message format allowing automatic visibility of line level notes.
  • Improve the communication between an IMS, Trust, and a Supplier.
  • More secure data transfer.
  • Increased rich data on order files.
  • Automated order acknowledgement receipts.
  • A key enabler for HCTED products.

Next Steps

This method is a working model for other hospitals to use across the NHS. Over the next few months, Genesis Automation will work alongside NHS Supply Chain to ensure all customers migrate across to the latest integration method and release the benefits available.

NHS Supply Chain will continue to work with new and existing EDI providers to onboard Trusts.

If you would like to understand how we can support your trust to migrate to the XML order format, please contact:

Client Services Helpdesk

0800 086 8670